Las Vegas: Friday qualifying report

HIGHT, SCHUMACHER AND ANDERSON LEAD QUALIFYING FRIDAY AT LAS VEGAS LAS VEGAS -- Robert Hight raced to a track record performance in Funny Car Friday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, covering the quarter-mile distance in 4.702 seconds at...

HIGHT, SCHUMACHER AND ANDERSON LEAD QUALIFYING FRIDAY AT LAS VEGAS

LAS VEGAS -- Robert Hight raced to a track record performance in Funny Car Friday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, covering the quarter-mile distance in 4.702 seconds at 327 mph to lead the qualifying action at the seventh annual NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals.

Three-time and reigning Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher and Pro Stock points leader Greg Anderson also earned provisional No. 1 qualifying honors at the $1.7 million race, the fifth of 23 events in the $50 million POWERade Drag Racing Series. Schumacher posted a 4.501-second performance in the first round of action, while Anderson waited until the cooler evening session to run a 6.787-second pass.

Hight's personal-best elapsed time of 4.702 at 327.11 mph in his Auto Club Ford Mustang was impressive as only one other Funny Car -- that of his father-in-law John Force -- managed to run within five-hundredths of a second of the mark.

"That was pretty stout," Hight said. "I think it was a little gutsy, maybe, being not qualified and going like that but Jimmy (Prock, crew chief) told me he didn't know any other way to run it. He said he was gonna be aggressive and get after it and that's what he did. I was getting nervous, but it all turned out good."

Force clocked in at 4.715 at 326.16 mph in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. After that, the field dropped back to Checker Schuck's Kragen Chevrolet Monte Carlo driver Del Worsham's 4.750 at 325.61 mph.

Points leader Ron Capps emerged unscathed from a huge fire at the top end after his fifth-best 4.771 in his Brut Dodge Stratus R/T. His teammate and the class' defending series champion, Gary Scelzi, is 12th with a 4.813. Scelzi is coming off a rare DNQ result in Houston.

Schumacher's U.S. Army dragster lost traction just a few hundred feet into his second run, but his earlier 4.501 at 327.35 mph kept him in the No. 1 slot.

"We're so glad it's back-to-back races," Schumacher said. "We lost in the first round in Houston last weekend and it's terrible to go into a two-week break off a performance like that. We really wanted to get back after it and redeem ourselves."

Houston winner Brandon Bernstein ran two more perfect passes Friday, both within two-thousandths of a second of one another. His best time was a third-best 4.534 at 330.23 mph in his Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster.

Anderson began his quest for a fifth Las Vegas title by running the quickest pass of opening day -- 6.787 at 202.82 mph in his Summit Racing Pontiac GTO -- to earn provisional low qualifier honors.

"We've definitely done a good job of qualifying this year," Anderson said of his three No. 1 qualifying efforts in the first four races. "Our weak point has been on raceday and that's the important day. We need a good get-well weekend and I can't think of a better place to do it than Las Vegas Motor Speedway."

First-round leader Richie Stevens knocked seven thousandths of a second off his opening pass, but still slipped to second overall with a 6.790 at 202.42 mph in his Mopar Dodge Stratus R/T.

The final two sessions of professional qualifying take place Saturday at noon and 3 p.m.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Del Worsham , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Greg Anderson , Brandon Bernstein , Robert Hight